Augustus B. Sage Society Trip to Virginia City and Carson City, Nevada
September 20–23, 2018
The importance of Nevada to American numismatics—and American history— can hardly be overstated. It was here in the hills near Virginia City and Carson City, in 1859, that prospectors uncovered what would soon become known as the Comstock Lode, the richest deposit of silver and gold ever found in the United States. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of the metals were ultimately clawed from Nevada’s mines. That mineral wealth not only financed the Union during the Civil War but fueled the growth of such great cities of the West as San Francisco. It also created a small army of noteworthy men, some like George Hearst, who made his fortune from the mines, and some like Mark Twain, who fortunately for all of us, did not.
Today the mining boom is long over, but a wealth of fascinating sites remain, including a few still-active mines and a lot of abandoned ones with their once cutting-edge technological innovations (steam and hydraulic pumping equipment, compressed-air drills, wire-rope cables), along with 19th-century mansions, stores, saloons, an opera house, and a number of captivating cemeteries.
Importantly for numismatists, Carson City also is the home of what for a couple of decades was a very busy U.S. mint. The Carson City Mint—today, the Nevada State Museum—was opened at the end of 1869, just a half dozen years after Nevada was rushed into statehood, and closed in 1893, by which time the Comstock Lode had pretty much petered out. In that brief period, it issued 57 different types of gold coins and some 50 types of silver coins, in eight denominations, with a value of more than $49,000,000. Seated Liberty dollars, with a “CC” mint mark, were its first productions, on February 11, 1870. Among its other output were dimes, 20-cent pieces, quarters, half-dollars, Trade dollars, Morgan silver dollars, and the five-, ten-, and 20-dollar gold pieces commonly known as Half Eagles, Gold Eagles, and Double Eagles.
Fortunately for visitors, the towns and cities given birth by the Comstock Lode are all in a relatively compact, scenic area. Carson City (Nevada’s capital) and Virginia City sit at the divide between desert to the east and the towering Sierra Madre range to the west. The two cities are linked by a popular train route that features, if not quite 19th-century authenticity, a reasonably close approximation: a 1916 steam locomotive pulling restored 1914 Pullman coaches. And for anyone wishing to spend more time in the region, there is also the nearby lure of Lake Tahoe, just 26 miles from Carson City.
The area is easily reached via Reno/Tahoe airport, and our guide will be a local specialist on mining and numismatics. To us, this looks like a terrific way to spend a long fall weekend, but we’d like to gauge your interest. So if you think you might like to join us, or if you would like more information, please contact Eshel Kreiter 212-571-4470 ext. 130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.